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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

MIAMI-Construction on Brickell Financial Centre continues amid local speculation that work on the 40-story project has stopped due to the recession. The 601,000-square-foot office tower is one of three new buildings set to add space in the city’s central business district through next year.

“The last crane is coming down. That means we are already ahead of the other two buildings,” Loretta Cockrum, chairman and CEO of Miami-based Foram Group, tells GlobeSt.com.

John Breistol, Foram Group’s president, adds that the crane removal makes way for the installation of the $245-million building’s exterior curtain wall system’s on the building’s east facade. The building is still on track for completion in the second or third quarter of 2010, he says.

Foram Group launched the project early last year and held its topping-off ceremony in early February. It announced its first major prelease in April 2008, a $58-million deal with Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Alexrod LLP for 115,000 square feet over 10 years, but the law firm canceled the deal in mid-February.

Brickell Financial Centre is competing with two other Downtown Miami high-rise office projects under way, Met 2 and 1450 Brickell. Collectively, the buildings will add nearly two million square feet to the CBD’s current inventory of nearly 13 million square feet.

Miami’s CBD, consisting of the Downtown and Brickell submarkets, had a vacancy rate of 11.2% and availability rate of 18% through the first quarter, according to CB Richard Ellis. Average asking rents are $32 per square foot for Downtown and $37 per square foot for Brickell.

No other preleases have been signed at Brickell Financial Centre, though the Foram Group executives say they have letters of intent from several prospective tenants. Two buildings totaling 1.5 million square feet, plus supporting ground-level retail, are planned for the site at 600 Brickell Ave.

“We’re really proud of the fact that we have moved as far as we have,” Cockrum says.

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